Albury Thunder's first official deal with NRL superpower Melbourne Storm could turn the club into a recruiting hotspot, according to both parties.
The Storm will host two Thunder players for a fortnight of off-season training ever year, starting with utility back Ty Fletcher and big five-eighth Mason Fuller on Monday, November 22.
"I'm hoping to learn anything from being a better ball player to running better lines in attack and learning how to defend, there's lots I want to get out of it," 21-year-old Fuller enthused.
Leeton product Fletcher, also 21, signed with the Thunder a year ago and now he's about to train with the Storm.
"Melbourne Storm is the best of the best, I was pretty excited to get the call." he offered.
The Storm, which started in 1998, has had strong ties, albeit in an unofficial capacity, with the Border club.
"The connection with the Albury-Wodonga area is really important to us," general manager of football Frank Ponissi suggested.
"Over the last 10 years or so, we've had a couple of trial matches and we relocated there during the initial COVID lockdown in May, 2020, it's a strong rugby league area and want to stay connected and also do whatever we can to help Albury Thunder."
The move also opens the way for budding NRL players to sign with the Thunder as a way of getting 'the foot in the door'.
"With our two feeder clubs in Queensland in the Falcons and the Tigers, there's been numerous examples of players who've gone to one of those clubs with the hope of getting picked up, the likes of Nicho Hynes and Chris Lewis, so, who knows, one day it would be lovely to say a player from Albury Thunder has signed with Melbourne Storm," Ponissi added.
The Thunder starts pre-season training at Greenfield Park on Tuesday night with the latest news only adding to the excitement.
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"If I'm in the Albury Thunder juniors and I can see I could have the opportunity to train with one of the most professional sporting clubs in the land, I'm excited and I want to be that person," Thunder's Rick O'Connell revealed.
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